january 2014 bartender of the month: katie emmerson
Name: Katie Emmerson
Establishment: Bar Manager, The Hawthorne
Recent Gigs: Growing up in Rochester, New York, Katie Emmerson was drawn to the arts from a young age. She studied musical theater and dance while at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, before moving to New York City in 2006 to pursue a career in show business. Though she traveled the world from Europe to South America and even the Far East in productions as varied as “42nd Street,” “Contact,” and “Marat/Sade,” it was another stage entirely that she would be drawn to perform on.
While waitressing at a Belgian restaurant in Manhattan to support her acting, Katie learned of an opportunity to join the owner's next project – Raines Law Room. Here she fell in love with craft bartending, naturally guiding her guests through the lexicon of classic cocktails. Under the tutelage of award-winning bar maven Meaghan Dorman, Katie's curiosity and enthusiasm for fine drinks and generous service was nurtured.
To gain more experience Katie split her time at other renowned New York establishments, notably Lantern’s Keep and the legendary Death & Co, where she came under the sway of bartender/mystic Joaquin Simo.
In 2011, Katie was recognized as one of Beverage Media’s 10 Mixologists to Watch, securing her position as one of the cocktail world’s most promising young bartenders. That same year, she applied alongside hundreds from around the globe for an apprentice position at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Katie was one of 40 selected to the competitive program, where she assisted with cocktail preparation and production and supported the lauded mixologists from Boston’s Eastern Standard as they nabbed first place in the Bar Room Brawl. When she received a hand-written thank you note from the ES team recognizing her hard work, she was immediately struck by their thoughtfulness and decided that this was an organization she wanted to be involved in.
Katie was instantly hooked by the pace, vibe and quality of service that ES represents and soon relocated to serve as an opening bartender at The Hawthorne, a high-end cocktail den from Eastern Standard’s revered Bar Director Jackson Cannon. Working alongside some of the brightest minds in Boston’s craft cocktail scene, Katie quickly accelerated to become The Hawthorne’s Head Bartender and then Bar
Manager, and helped the team secure a finalist position as the Best American Cocktail Bar 2013.
Though Katie’s formative experience in New York ignited her passion for bartending, she loves that the supportive, close-knit industry community in Boston allows her to further her knowledge and contribute
to the craft as a whole.
Why did you become a bartender?
Bartending started out as a way to pay my rent when I was living in New York City and still auditioning for theater productions. I fell in love with the creativity and hospitality. I find myself using a lot of the same skills I did as a performer.
What is The Hawthorne doing differently?
We are always experimenting and trying to push ourselves. I'm personally really excited to see what we will do this year. There is often a pretension associated with cocktail bars, but at The Hawthorne anyone is welcome and can enjoy themselves. At the end of the day, we just want to make guests happy.
What are some fun winter flavors you’re working with?
I've always been a big fan of working with tea in cocktails and winter is a great time to focus on that.
What's in the mixing glass or shaker for your customers?
Hopefully something that is exactly what they wanted, but that they didn't even know was exactly what they wanted. I love using little clues and hints to gather information and take their drinking experience to the next level.
What are you sipping on and why?
I will forever be in love with Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy. It drinks a lot like a whiskey and has a rich history. There are actually letters from George Washington to the Laird family asking for the recipe so he could have something to keep the troops warm at night.
What are you dancing to while mixing?
At the bar, Pandora is my best friend. Favorite stations would be Sam Cooke, Fitz and the Tantrums, Bee Gees and Katy Perry (yes, really). When setting up or working on something while bar is quiet, it's Amy Winehouse's album Back to Black.
What are some quirks/quotes you are known for?
I eat A LOT of candy. Like... a lot. I drink Champagne in a big gals with crushed ice.
Quotes... "Champagne Maintain!" Originally from Meaghan Dorman, which I gladly pass along.